Retro Review: Spider-Man 3
In anticipation of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN's July 4th opening, here at JoBlo.com, we've decided to take a look back at the original SPIDER-MAN trilogy; a franchise that came to illustrate just how good a superhero film could be (SPIDER-MAN 2), and how badly a series could go awry (SPIDER-MAN 3).
Here we go…the infamous SPIDER-MAN 3. Sigh… I’ll never forget the night SPIDER-MAN 3 opened- a night which, as they say, shall live forever in infamy. This was just before I started writing for JoBlo.com, but being a big fan of the last two SPIDER-MAN movies, I, along with two friends, bought my ticket to the midnight show, fully expecting another slam-bang installment. How wrong I was…
To be sure, the warning signs were already there prior to opening day. The early reviews hadn’t been good, and I had just read a blistering, hilarious attack on the film over at AICN by Neil Cumpston, who- later- would be revealed as the great Patton Oswalt (google these reviews if you haven’t already). Nevertheless, the crowd was wired and ready to go, and the auditorium was jam-packed. And boy, oh boy- did the audience ever turn on this film. Throughout the last hour, the crowd was jeering and booing at many of the big set pieces. As the credits rolled, the phrase that seemed to dominate the auditorium was “what the fuck was that?” In the lobby I saw a fan wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt tear it off in anger and throw it in the trash.
What is it about SPIDER-MAN 3 that made people so angry? Gee- I dunno, how about EVERYTHING? From Topher Grace as the wimpiest Venom imaginable, to Thomas Hayden Church’s somnambulistic sandman, to Green Goblin 2- everything about it was just wrong. And the musical numbers? Da fuuuuuuuck??? Ok, so I get the early number where Kirsten Dunst as Mary-Jane sings a melancholy tune in the play she’s acting in, but when Tobey gets the venom, and goes emo- prancing down the street to “Staying Alive”, I couldn’t believe my eyes. And the jazz dance number! What in God’s name could have made Sam Raimi think this was a good idea? “Now dig on this…,” Maguire says in faux-hep cat patter, as he dances around a jazz café like Gene Kelly- minus the talent and on peyote. Truly, this film is a train wreck- although I’d wager that it’s still watchable in a “so bad it’s good” kinda way, with many of the worst parts of the film gaining popularity on YouTube and as memes.
SPIDEY: Maguire is just awful here, especially once he combs his hair down, and gets emo. His bad-boy act is ridiculously lame, and like something out of WEST SIDE STORY. Yeah, nothing wrong with WEST SIDE STORY- for a 1961 musical, but why is Maguire acting like this in a $300 million dollar tentpole superhero film in 2007??? Obviously he had gotten sick of the part, and one wonders whether or not this film was a conscious effort by Maguire and Sam Raimi to destroy the franchise. If so, mission accomplished.
Villain(s): After Willem Dafoe in the first film, and Alfred Molina in the second we get…Topher Grace? Poor Grace, who was so badly miscast as Venom that this film seems to have derailed his once-promising career, with his Eddie Brock being one of the most annoying (and unthreatening) bad guys of all time. Thomas Hayden Church doesn’t fare much better as the morose Sandman, leading to a cuddly “I forgive you” climax. And James Franco- actually, he’s not bad only due to the fact that he seems aware of just how bad the film is, so he ramps up the camp value to an 11. That said, once Parker scars up his face, and he snaps out of his bad-guy spell, as a secondary hero Franco is pretty boring.
MUSIC: Danny Elfman sits this one out, with composer John Debney taking over (although he uses many of Elfman’s existing themes). The score is fine- nothing special, but far from the worst thing about the film.
RECEPTION: While the fan reaction was toxic, as were the reviews, SPIDER-MAN 3, riding a wave of hype, manages to gross a huge $336 million domestically, and $554 million international, bringing it to a cume of $890 million, more than SPIDER-MAN 2. No wonder they wanted to reboot the franchise.